First Warning Forecast: Rain, wind, and flooding from Hurricane Maria

Panovich: Outer Banks likely to see Maria's impacts

The impending effects from Maria forced mandatory evacuations of visitors in Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island as well as the closure of the Ocracoke Campground.

The order goes into effect at 5 a.m. Monday, according to Hyde County officials. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the Outer Banks with the potential of 50 miles per hour winds and a 2-4 foot storm surge.

"The people most able to leave - professionals, middle class - may well chose to leave", Watson said Sunday. Maria is centered about 175 miles SE of Cape Hatteras, NC and moving north at 7 mph.

Hurricane Maria has weakened slightly as it moves in the western Atlantic off the US east coast. A tropical storm watch also was in effect for other areas. Gradual weakening is forecast during the next couple of days and Maria is forecast to become a tropical storm Tuesday night.

"Maria remains a large hurricane", the Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. update today.

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The five-day tracking model shows Maria maintaining hurricane strength through Tuesday as it makes it way north before turning northeast and heading further out into the Atlantic. Former Hurricane Jose is to thank for that. Hurricane Maria lashed the Turks and Caicos islands over the weekend after killing at least 32 in Puerto Rico and Dominica.

According to Moss, the chance for severe weather is greatest late Tuesday into Wednesday, and rip currents and beach erosion could continue through Thursday.

"Swells from Maria are increasing along the coast of the southeastern United States and are expected to reach the Mid-Atlantic coast (Sun) day". The map above shows how rain will be streaming over the same areas of the central USA and contained compactly to Maria's track east of the US, leaving most of Virginia and several states just to the west and south in a "doughnut hole" of dryness.

"Hurricanes gain their energy from the warm tropical waters and ex-Maria will be modified significantly as it tracks over the cool North Atlantic ocean".